San Antonio's JW Marriott Resort Stay & Play Review
The new San Antonio JW Marriott Resort & Spa offers you one of the best golf stay and play packages with the option to play two of the best courses in Texas. The JW Marriott Resort and Spa opened in January 2010 and in October we decided to check it out. We had heard that the JW Marriott was fantastic and loaded with great amenities and one of the best resort lazy rivers and pool complexes in the Lone Star State. And better yet as a guest of the JW Marriott Resort you could play the new PGA Tour TPC AT&T Oaks and AT&T Canyons Golf Courses. It didn't take us long to make a decision to pack the bags and clubs and head to San Antonio - and when our daughter and my brother heard we were going, they also packed their bags and met us there.
We were impressed and excited as we approached this magnificent resort and got a glimpse of one of the golf holes and the resort perched on a bluff on 600 picturesque acres of rolling Texas Hill Country just north of downtown San Antonio. The JW Marriott is huge with 1002 rooms and 85 suites - making it the largest JW Marriott in the world yet it has a rare Hill Country character, a small and intimate feel, and personalized Texas friendly hospitality coupled with excellent service. It just doesn't get much better than that! And they have a variety of Stay & Play packages and options for golfers. Be prepared to spend some money, but every cent of it will be worth it and it'll be an experience you won't forget for some time. In fact, you'll most likely start saving to come back again.
JW Marriott Resort Stay & Play Accommodations
The seven story JW Marriott has a good mix of suites and hotel rooms half of which will have majestic views of the hill country, golf course, or water park. During our Stay & Play, we stayed on the ground floor in a standard room with a sliding glass door that opened to a small patio with two chairs and a table - perfect for us. We could walk out the sliding glass door and in less than a minute we could be floating down the lazy river, catching a score at the High Velocity Sports Bar, or be eating dinner on the patio of the Cibolo Moon restaurant. The patio was also great for a cup of coffee in the morning and a drink and round of dominos in the evening. The pro shop was a two minute walk from our room and after our first round of golf, we had our clubs stored in the locker room at the pro shop for the next day's round - how easy is that!
The rooms at the JW Marriott are not your standard hotel rooms. The guest rooms reflect the authentic style and hospitality of the historic region and feature custom-designed furniture and finishes that make use of hand-tooled leather, copper and ironwork. Our room was very spacious, well appointed, and included:
I toured one of the suites and they are fantastic! The one I saw had two adjoining rooms, a huge patio with great patio furniture and a magnificent view, a well appointed large living area with upscale furniture and a murphy bed. What a perfect place to stay with your golfing buddies, friends, or family!
JW Marriott Resort Golf Courses
Head out the front door of the JW Marriott and within a couple minutes walk you're at the pro shop for two PGA Tour Tournament Player's Club golf courses - and both courses are as impressive as the Resort. The AT&T Oaks and AT&T Canyons courses are both private but available for play as a guest of the resort. When we stayed, we played both courses - what a fantastic experience and both courses made our Favorite Texas Courses list.
The TPC AT&T Canyons Course is a very special Texas Hill Country layout that was designed by Pete Dye and Bruce Lietzke to take advantage of the beautiful rolling and heavily treed terrain. This is the easier and more player friendly of the two courses but it's no walk in the park by any means. The fairways are more open but have plenty of slope, contour, and elevation changes - bring your camera, the scenery and panoramic views are stunning and it gives you an opportunity to take a break and refocus.
During your round you'll encounter elevated tee boxes and greens, forced carries over some gigantic ravines, wildlife, dog legs, blind shots, and resort friendly wide fairways. But beware of the 115 bunkers and the very complex greens with plenty of slope and contour. Use the Canyons Course as the warm up for your round on the Oaks course. To learn more about this outstanding 18 holes, read our review of the TPC AT&T Canyons Course.
TPC AT&T Oaks Course was designed by Greg Norman and is 7435 yards from the tips with a slope of 148 and a rating of 76.5 - making it the toughest and most challenging course in Texas! But what a blast to play! The Oaks Course is more traditional of the two courses with it's tree lined fairways (that can be a tad tight) and gently rolling to flat terrain. This 18 is defined by some very treacherous bunkers (steep, deep, long, huge, and strategically placed - and plenty of them) and very complex greens with lots of slope and undulation.
The Oaks 18 is hard and you'll most likely curse Greg Norman a couple time but it's a must play and there are some fantastic, very fun, and memorable holes - you'll want to play this 18 again. Don't let the challenges of the Oaks Course discourage you from playing it and don't try to be too macho - move up a set of tee boxes, keep the driver in the bag on some holes, focus, and you'll love this course. Don't expect to turn in a new low score.
For more information on one of the best courses in Texas, read our review of the TPC AT&T Oaks Course.
Both courses offer near perfect conditions, first class service, and excellent practice facilities. The GPS system is one of the best and has yardages, fly overs, tips, and the commentary on the Oaks course is from Greg Norman. All of the staff from the pro shop to the starters to the cart ladies are friendly, helpful, and want to make sure you have a fun and memorable round. The pro shop is very well stocked with everything that you need. And make sure you spend a lot of time on the range, putting green, and bunkers - you'll need your "A" game to score well on either course. The deck of 18 Oaks, which is next to the pro shop, is the perfect place to end your round with a cold drink, an appetizer, or some good food.
Before playing either course you may want to consider a visit to the TOUR Academy for a group or private lesson or to sign up for their TOUR Academy Get Golf Ready Programs which is supposed to make learning and improving one's golf game easy - impossible for me. To make my game better I would need to sign up for their two, three and five-day golf school, which I hear is a fun and relaxed combination of full swing, short game, and on course instruction that includes daily golf with a cart.
JW Marriott Resort & Spa Amenities
In addition to access to two fantastic golf courses, the JW Marriott has lots of outstanding amenities to keep you busy when you're not playing golf. Some of the things you can enjoy during your golf stay and play at the San Antonio JW Marriott include:
- a $15 million 6 acre water park that includes an infinity adult pool over looking the first hole on the Canyons course (I soaked in the pool for 20 minutes and planned how to play every shot for a par - played it and recorded a seven after one lost ball and two bunker!), an 1100' lazy river, multiple slides, kids pool, a 262,000 gallon leisure pool surrounded by very comfortable lounge chairs, tables, and umbrellas plus food and beverage service - you may find it hard to leave this area
- several options to keep you fat and happy during your golf outing:
- Cibolo Moon - this is the main restaurant and it serves Texas style regional cuisine infused with a Mexican, Texas barbecue, and southwestern flavor and it has an outstanding breakfast buffet
- 18 Oaks - overlooking the 18th hole of the TPC AT&T Oaks course, 18 Oaks offers fine dining at the Club House showcasing prime cuts of traditional steakhouse fare,the freshest of seafood, numerous cuts of locally sourced meats, and a la carte sides. After a fantastic round of golf, we had lunch on the veranda with a majestic view and overlooking a hole that ate 3 of my golf balls and to get even I devoured the best chicken pot pie (with a buttermilk biscuit crust) that I've ever had. Plus I had 2 margaritas, sampled a delicious Gulf Shrimp Bisque and French Onion soup, a Gulf Crab Slider on a baby brioche bun, an iron charred Meyers natural hanger steak with fries, and a pulled chicken caesar salad! Excellent - my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Shortly after all that, I had fond memories of the AT&T Oaks Course.
- High Velocity Sports Bar - this is one unbelievable sports bar (lots of TVs and a 120' screen over the bar area!) which serves some good sports bar type food as well as some unique entries some of which include: Texas style chili with sour cream and redneck cheddar; Texas BBQ nachos with BBQ brisket, jalapenos, smoked cheddar, ranch beans and BBQ sauce; hearty bone-in rib eye with crispy onion rings; and Jack Daniel's BBQ salmon;
- Rivertop Grill - the grill is perfect for those of us who want to spend most of the day enjoying the pool and lazy river. The Rivertop Grill has light poolside fare food that is built on San Antonio regional cuisine - Wahoo fish tacos, carne asada and carnitas, chicken quesadillas, barbecue pork sliders, beef and jack chalupas, frito pie with Texas chili and salsa
- the Lantana Spa is a perfect place to head to work out the week's stress, loosen up the muscles for your next round of golf, burn some calories in the exercise room, or enjoy some healthy food
- the Tequila Bar has over 100 different tequilas from blanco to reposado to anejo - an excellent place to spend some time settling your golfing bets
- plus there is another fitness center at the resort to wear off the calories, a room full of arcade games, a pool table, lobby bar with live music, hiking and biking trials, and a Kids Club for your 4 to 12 year olds to enjoy while you're chasing that little white ball
Other Fun Things To See & Do
The JW Marriott Resort & Spa is 17 miles from downtown San Antonio which is loaded with fun things to see and do. Use this San Antonio Map to find amusement parks (Sea World, Six Flag's Fiesta Texas, Schlitterbahn Waterpark), attractions (Riverwalk, San Antonio Museum or Zoo, Alamo, and lots more), shopping, wineries, and more.
If you need to play more golf, the San Antonio area is home to some outstanding golf courses - on thisyou can quickly locate a course and read our review of the course.
Have fun and keep your head down!